House of Commons photo


Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was quebec.

Last in Parliament March 2011, as Bloc MP for Berthier—Maskinongé (Québec)

Lost his last election, in 2011, with 29% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

I rise today, on this Bloc Québécois opposition day, on a matter of concern to a number of Quebeckers and Canadians, the extension of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.

The Conservative Party and the Liberal Party did not want to discuss the issue, so this will be our only opportunity to talk about this mission, a mission that the Liberals and the Conservatives have agreed will be extended to 2014.

We understand that the Conservative government has signed a backroom agreement with the Liberals to extend the mission. Those two parties have agreed that extending the mission in Afghanistan will not be subject to a vote in the House.

I am proud to be a member of the Bloc Québécois today. The Bloc's opposition day motion is providing an opportunity for some debate about the mission in Afghanistan.

We would have preferred that the Conservative government introduce it, given its 2006 election platform, which stated that any extension of the mission in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote in the House. The Prime Minister has stated on a number of occasions that the military mission would end in 2011, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs has also made statements to that effect.

It is a shame that we are holding the debate on this mission on a Bloc Québécois opposition day, since the government has made a number of statements and commitments that any deployment of troops in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote.

It is a shame because we are going through a time when people are more and more cynical about politics and more and more distrustful of politicians. They are putting less and less faith in politicians. We are here in the House having a debate that should not be taking place given the fact that we were agreed. Even the Prime Minister said clearly that any extension of the mission in Afghanistan would be subject to a vote. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Any extension should go to a vote because we are elected parliamentarians. There are 308 members in the House, and each of us represents close to 100,000 voters who elected us for our ideas. We have taken part in debates in a number of election campaigns. Personally, like all the hon. members of the Bloc Québécois, I have faced the Conservatives, Liberals, New Democrats and candidates from other parties during these debates. The people I represent in Berthier—Maskinongé elected me precisely because we talked about the mission in Afghanistan in the numerous debates I took part in during the campaign.

We talked about assistance to unemployed people, and we talked about guaranteed income supplement budgets. We took part in a number of debates. I represent the people of Berthier—Maskinongé. My Bloc Québécois colleagues, the people of Berthier—Maskinongé and the citizens of all of Quebec are against extending the mission in Afghanistan. A survey shows that over 70 or 75% of Quebeckers are opposed to it.

Unfortunately, some Conservative members from Quebec, who are still supposedly in power and still voluntarily toeing the government's line, did not vote for what Quebeckers want with regard to extending the mission in Afghanistan.

The Prime Minister has made a number of statements. In the 2007 Speech from the Throne, he said:

The Canadian Forces mission has been approved by Parliament until February 2009, and our government has made clear to Canadians and our allies that any future military deployments must also be supported by a majority of parliamentarians.

So what is the government doing? It is making deals with the Liberals on the sly and it is avoiding facing Parliament and the people of Canada and Quebec. Basically, it is avoiding facing up to the opinions and values of Canadians and Quebeckers who are against this military mission in Afghanistan.

Despite what the Conservative government and Liberals can tell us today, we are talking about training Afghan soldiers and police officers. When we talked about extending the mission to train Afghan police officers and soldiers, General Hillier clearly said two weeks ago that we could not do so without finding ourselves in a combat situation. It was not a Bloc supporter or an hon. member of this House who said that, but a general who has been there, on the ground in Afghanistan.

Personally, I think something a Chief of the Defence Staff said is more credible than anything we can say in the House. The French army has been training Afghan soldiers for a few years now and over 50 French soldiers have been killed in these training missions.

Whether or not we agree with any of the other parties regarding the mission in Afghanistan, we must debate the issue. Any time we spend large sums of money on military missions and send troops, people from our country, Quebeckers and Canadians, to fight and risk their lives, I think it is extremely important that we vote on it in the House.

There are 308 members in this House representing all Quebeckers and Canadians, yet we are avoiding a vote on this issue. We are asking military personnel to risk their lives. I am convinced that any soldiers who go to give training in Afghanistan will be risking their lives. I truly believe a vote should be held.

The Canada first defence strategy does not clearly define the government's foreign military policy. There is no explanation for such exorbitant military spending.

It has not been defined. Why are we buying so much defence equipment? It is difficult to understand.

At the same time, and as a final point, of course I do want the government to be able to take part in military missions, but I also want it to be just as concerned about our veterans when they come home, since they often lack resources, especially if they are injured or have a disability of any kind.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Madam Speaker, every member of the Bloc Québécois respects the troops who are currently in Afghanistan putting their lives on the line to carry out a mission.

Our question is the following. Why did the government promise in its 2006 election campaign to end the mission? The Conservative Prime Minister talked about that several times. The Minister of Foreign Affairs said in the House of Commons that this mission would end in 2011 and that there would be no military presence beyond that date. It was not the Bloc Québécois members, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs who said that.

It was the Conservatives' idea to continue the mission, and the Liberals support them. The only thing the Bloc Québécois wants is for the government to keep its word and for the military mission to be defined and put to a vote in the House. The Bloc Québécois initiated this debate today as part of its opposition day. However, it was the government's responsibility to initiate a debate on extending the mission in Afghanistan.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Thank you, Madam Speaker, for recognizing me.

These past few years, the people of Quebec and Canada has been unable to understand why the government had turned a blind eye to the whole matter of the torture of detainees in Afghanistan. The government even prorogued Parliament because of that matter which has shocked the Canadian public as a whole.

Now the government wants to avoid putting the future of the mission in Afghanistan to a vote in this House. I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary this: when will this government start showing more transparency and more respect for the democratic will of all members of this House, who represent all the people of Quebec and Canada in this place? When will it show more transparency and a stronger sense of democracy?

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the speech of the Minister of National Defence. I do not agree with his position, but it is important to have a debate here in the House, and that is why the Bloc Québécois introduced this motion.

I would like the minister to comment on a part of the Conservatives' election platform in 2006. The platform said that the Conservative government would make Parliament responsible for oversight over the conduct of Canadian foreign policy and the commitment of the Canadian Forces to foreign operations. But what is happening? We can see that the government is going ahead with the mission in Afghanistan until 2014. So the government has taken different positions, as the Prime Minister did in the past. We are witnessing a democratic deficit with this position, which is contradictory to the position taken in the 2006 election campaign.

I would also like to hear his comments on General Hillier's statement on the mission in Afghanistan. He said that, when training police and the army, there is no way around a more aggressive military combat mission. I would like to hear what the Minister of National Defence has to say about that.

Business of Supply November 25th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Saint-Jean on his excellent speech on the motion we moved here today.

I would like to ask him a question about something he mentioned in his speech regarding the Prime Minister's commitment to end this mission in 2011 and the fact that he is now reneging on that promise. That was just one of the many speeches the hon. member for Saint-Jean has made in this House.

What worries me about what my colleague said is that people are becoming more and more cynical about politics. They are becoming increasingly suspicious of political posturing. They no longer believe in their elected officials. This is a perfect example of manipulation: first the Prime Minister promises to end the mission and says the House will have to vote on extending the mission, but then, with the support of the Liberals and his party, he goes ahead and extends the mission anyway.

I wonder what my colleague's thoughts are on this.

Veterans Affairs November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, the minister can talk all he likes about a new chapter and more announcements, but veterans are still not satisfied. In September, the minister promised additional measures over the coming weeks, even days. But we are still waiting.

Can the government confirm that it intends to amend the legislation and restore the lifetime monthly pension, as veterans are calling for?

Veterans Affairs November 15th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, veterans used Remembrance Week as an opportunity to show their opposition to the government's changes to allowance payments. Veterans do not want a single lump sum payment; they want the government to restore the lifetime monthly pension.

Will the government listen to veterans' arguments, respond to their needs and restore the lifetime monthly pension as a means of compensation?

Remembrance Day November 5th, 2010

Mr. Speaker, every year Remembrance Day gives us the opportunity to commemorate those who gave their lives in armed conflicts in the name of justice, freedom and peace.

The Bloc Québécois would like to commemorate in particular the members of the Régiment Royal Canadien-Français, the 22nd (French Canadian) Battalion, forerunner to the Royal 22e Régiment, which was established during the first world war and is still the only francophone regiment. Its members not only had to fight the enemy but they also had to work for recognition and respect from the other battalions. It earned 18 battle honours and roughly 4,000 to 6,000 members were injured or died at the front.

We should also have a very special thought for the soldiers who have fought and continue to fight in other conflicts, particularly all those presently deployed in Afghanistan.

Veterans November 3rd, 2010

Mr. Speaker, each year we rise in the House out of a solemn duty of remembrance. We must not forget the sacrifice made by the women and men who donned a military uniform. Those who served in the military did not do so for personal glory or gain, but out of a sense of duty to their fellow citizens. That is why we are honouring them today. They sacrificed themselves out of a sense of duty. When the need arose, they went to the front to protect the vulnerable, maintain peace and support democracy. More than once, they had to leave their families and friends to go to a far-off country, be it France, Italy, Germany, North Korea, Bosnia, Somalia or Afghanistan. They always lived up to what was asked of them.

During Veterans' Week, it is our duty to remember. We must not forget the men and women who jeopardized their safety and their health and even paid the ultimate price—they gave their lives—to ensure that their mission was successful. This may be beyond the comprehension of those who have never served in the Canadian armed forces, but we must see it as an expression of honour. Every soldier accepts his or her mission with humility, determination and courage. In turn, we have the collective duty to remember.

Today, when we remember the men and women who donned uniforms, we remember the successful outcome of their missions, and we remember the arduous work done by soldiers to restore peace, security, freedom and equality in countries ravaged by war. I am thinking, for example, of Europe and Korea, where they not only fought against oppression and dictatorship, but they also gave hope to local populations by helping them to regain their freedom.

In this time of remembrance, we should think especially of our soldiers who are currently in Afghanistan or who have already served in this theatre of operations. They are our modern veterans. No matter what we think about the politics of the Afghan mission, we must recognize the work and sacrifices of these Quebec and Canadian soldiers.

We believe that we have a collective responsibility to the men and women who are our veterans. Once they have completed their service, it is our duty to look after them. That is why we must always concern ourselves with the support given to veterans, those who proudly wore a uniform. It is also why the military and veterans deserve all the resources we can give them to meet their health care needs, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. All of us must remember because those who have gone to war will never forget.

Veterans November 2nd, 2010

Mr. Chair, I would like to congratulate our colleague on his excellent speech. I sit on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs with him. He has served on that committee for a number of years and is very dedicated to the cause of veterans. I believe that he truly stands up for veterans, as do the Bloc Québécois and other members of the House.

There is one thing that concerns me, and that is Bill C-473. The bill will be debated in the House and seeks to protect medals, orders and other items. The member knows where I am going. We met with the Canadian Legion and other veterans' organizations, who told us that the medals belong to them. They told us that when they are given a medal, without a signed contract, without any agreement, the medals belong to them.

The bill states that the veteran may transfer these items to his family. If the veteran wishes to sell them, he must promptly approach the museum. However, veterans oppose this bill. They say that the medals belong to them. If veterans do not comply with the provisions of this bill they may be subject to a fine of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000, which is a fairly large amount. That is unfortunate. Medals are given to heroes who are then penalized and slapped with a fine if they do not agree to look after the item given to them as provided for in this bill. The member is about to—